Fighting Injury – Fitness Focus by Genieve Sanchez

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Injury Prevention and Rehabilitation in Unarmed Combat Sports  Fitness Focus Interview w/ Dr. Beau Hightower of Elite-OSM

– Interview by Genieve Sanchez

Injury is something that every athlete experiences somewhere along the road during competitions, training, or even through everyday wear and tear on their bodies.  It can be devastating and can sideline an athlete during critical training and seasonal matches.  Severe or minor, injuries if left untreated can flair into worst circumstances for any athlete.

This was just the case with me several months ago.  I have been an athlete all my life and have been privileged to compete at both a collegiate level sport with basketball and a national level sport with competitive fitness.  Most recently I took the athletic challenge of amateur boxing.  After my first fight I was severely sidelined with a reoccurring back injury that happened during off-season training.  The pain was relentless and affected everyday movements such as getting out of bed, walking, and even sitting at my work desk.  It was at that point that I reached out to my friend and chiropractor Dr. Hightower, who worked with me once a week with his sports rehabilitation methods and within a month my back felt 100% and I was able to dive into training camp and train for my next amateur fight.  I was so pleased with his recovery methods that I thought the entire KNUXX community could benefit from his advice and expertise on injury and recovery.

I sat down with Dr. Hightower for insight on his practice and rehabilitation methods and here is what he had to say:

GS:  Can you tell our readers about your educational and professional background?

Dr. H :  Genieve, thank you for having me today. One of the biggest challenges in the lives of Americans is finding the time for both higher education and physical fitness. Education is important, but particularly important when it comes to honing your craft. Just as elite fighters study to learn their art, I have spent the better part of ten years in the classroom and am transitioning into a teaching role at this point. I am currently finishing my 6th college degree (3 bachelor’s, 2 masters, and a doctorate) and am board certified with the American Academy of Pain Management. I am a NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist and NASM Corrective Exercise specialist who is a contributor to the rehab and conditioning knowledge at our practice. After several years treating professional and collegiate athletes in Dallas and Cincinnati, I am thrilled to be back in my home town here in Albuquerque.

GS:  I know that in addition to keeping athletes on the field, you are an accomplished athlete yourself.  Can you share with us your competitive athletic background?

Dr. H:  While my credentials aren’t nearly as impressive as yours, I take competition seriously. My passion for football led me from the fields at La Cueva High School to University Stadium where I was a proud member of 3 bowl participating UNM Lobos teams. After college, I channeled my competitive fire towards fitness and have become an NPC Nationally Qualified Men’s Physique Competitor with the highlight being a top 20 finish at The NPC National Bodybuilding Championships (the biggest IFBB qualifier in the world). I continue to compete in 5ks and obstacle runs, and am aiming to follow in your footsteps to step in the ring soon.

GS:  Like any great craftsman, there is an underlining of passion.  What is your passion about treatment and how does that drive you when treating pain and injuries?

Dr. H:  Genieve, the saddest thing that I ever see is when an athlete has busted their tail and trained for months and months to prepare for a competition and then either doesn’t compete or competes at a much lower level due to an injury.

As an athlete, I know how frustrating injuries can be. I have had them all! My greatest passion is to see people live their lives in a way that THEY choose , whether that be winning a UFC belt, picking up their child, or something as simple as being able to walk up and downs stairs without your knee pain.

I look at every patient as an individual and it presents like a puzzle that needs to be solved. The biggest issue is that most doctors don’t spend the time to get to know their patient and don’t test them in ways that translate over to their day to day lives. When I began practicing I swore I would never be that way, and I will never back down from that promise!

GS:  What does your current practice specialize in? 

Dr. H:  We specialize in the rapid resolution of muscle and connective tissue injuries and functional performance. I emphasize functional because their customized treatment plan needs to lead to functional improvement, i.e. it changes their lives for the better!

My specialty is Ortho-therapy™, the cutting edge hands-on therapy that I have formulated taking the best of all physical medicine techniques.

GS:  As you know Albuquerque is home to some of the greatest MMA and other unarmed combat sport athletes in the world.  Like any professional athlete, an injury can sideline a career and it can be devastating for a fighters team including coaches, sponsors, and most importantly; family. 

Can you give us your expertise on 5 common injuries that face (un-armed) combat sport athletes?  This can be from actual fighting injuries and/or conditioning injuries. 

(To establish what unarmed combat sports are…Unarmed combat is fighting between two individuals with the purpose to establish and maintain dominance over the other. Unarmed combat can be broken down into three areas of discipline: stand up, clinch and ground fighting.)

Dr. H: The most common injuries that I see with (un-armed) combat sport athletes are:

  • Shoulder/Rotator Cuff Injuries
  • Wrist sprains/strains
  • Neck Spasms/Pain
  • Lower back Spasms/Pain
  • Contusions on the shins and knees

GS:  Based upon these 5 common injuries, what are the best rehabilitation methods that these athletes can do for their injury, both in terms of self remedy and that of seeking a professional physical medicine specialist?

Dr H:   The best methods are often the most basic, and with athletic injuries the same principle applies. The best methods to resolve these methods include specialized soft-tissue treatment such as our Ortho-Therapy ™, manual therapy techniques such as Mulligan, Maitland, and Mckenzie, and an evidence based home rehab program.

GS:  Finally, perhaps the most important medication/treatment is “prevention”.  Can you summarize top preventive measures all athletes can take in preventing major injuries during training seasons? 

Dr.H:  Once again, simple always wins. Self myofascial release and a good warm-up are the best ways to keep muscles and tissues from being overactive and damaged. The best defense is a good offense, and it is important to be pro-active with tools such as foam rollers, lacrosse balls, and myofascial sticks. These tools can help keep muscles healthy. I am also a huge supporter of Kinesio tape and I use it as an adjunct to my treatment as well as a tool to keep athletes healthy.

GS:  In general what are athlete’s biggest challenges in overcoming injuries?

Dr H:  One of the biggest challenges that athletes face, is returning to action before addressing their injury in a proper manner. Unfortunately we have an over-worked medical community that tends to sit athletes out for the simple fact that they don’t know the cause of the injury or don’t have time to properly asses the patient. Athletes need a thorough functional and orthopedic examination that is done by an expert. Athletes tend to put off getting treatment until the injury becomes debilitating which often causes the athlete to become injured in other areas of their body.

GS:  What are the major benefits of Ortho-Therapy for competitive athletes?

Dr.H:  Ortho-Therapy ™ is a cutting edge and unique process of evaluating and addressing muscle, tendon, and ligament injuries. Using this unique treatment, we average less than 2 weeks until full injury resolution and resolve 90-95% of all injuries that present in the office. This treatment will tell you on the first visit if we can fix your injury because you will be remarkably improved in just one visit.  With this treatment, we never waste patient’s time or money.   Being a native New Mexican, I appreciate how hard we work to take care of ourselves and our families.

GS:  What has been your most challenging injury with an athlete that ended in a recovery success story? 

Dr. H:

Two come to mind.

The first is the story of the current 3rd ranked UFC welterweight fighter in the world who was preparing for a match with the former 2nd ranked fighter in the world. He injured his knee in training camp and was told that he may have to reschedule the fight. We got his knee unlocked and he knocked his opponent out cold in the first round!

The second, was a 17 year old baseball player who was told that he had fractured his hip running down the first base line. After reviewing the x-rays, I concluded that it was not a typical fracture, but a growth plate lesion (as is the case with many children; Osgood Schlatter’s, Sever’s Disease) He was told that he would be forced to sit out the entire year. His mother (whom I had fixed her neck previously) came to me in tears asking if I could save his senior season. After one visit, he was off of his crutches and after 5 visits (2 weeks) he was back on the field and completed his senior season.

I honestly cried when he invited me to his last game and gave me a shout out as during his introduction!  (maybe I shouldn’t admit that to our fight fans out there)

I think my favorite “trick” is when people come in with crutches or boots, and walk out carrying them!

GS:  Where can interested athletes, coaches, and others contact you for further questions about ELITE-OSM and other rehabilitation question?

Dr. H:

They can check out our website

( or (

Also they can call our office at 505-252-4080 or email me at

 [email protected]

Thank you for this interview Dr. Hightower and best of luck with your practice and personal athletic endeavors!

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